Tips for Throwing Your First Wine Tasting Party

A theme, some nibbles, and plenty of stemware
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Hosting your first wine tasting is a rite of passage for wine enthusiasts. It’s up there with learning how to spit.

First, it helps to have a theme, like Bargain Bordeaux, Aromatic Whites, or Napa versus Sonoma Merlot. Next, consider your guests. Are they just discovering wine or are they bona fide aficionados? The number of guests is up to you, but, as a hosting newbie, we recommend sticking to a manageable five to 10 guests, and the same number of wines. Enough to engage in a lively dialogue about the wines without getting rowdy.

Here are other essentials to consider when planning and hosting your first wine tasting party:

1. Where there is wine, there is food. Your guests will expect you to provide a little nosh. A selection of salumi, cheese, olives, and dried fruit works well, or, you can commit to wine-friendly appetizers. We love the Fig and Blue Cheese Savories.

2. Send out an Evite or post your event to your guests via Facebook with the theme, date, time, location, and a tease about what to expect. Also, let them know if you are providing the wines or if you’d like each guest to bring a bottle.

3. Hosting a tasting is a lot like a study group. You’ll need to provide pens and paper for your guests to rate or jot down their impressions of the wines. If it’s a blind tasting, ask your favorite wine merchant for paper wine bags to hide the identity of the bottles.

Make sure you have enough stemware. For a party with five wines and five people, have 10 glasses on hand. Guests who like to have extra glasses are welcome to bring more.

4. Provide each guest with a paper cup as a spit cup. Also set up dump buckets on the table so there is a ratio of one for every two guests. Vases work great for this.

5. Put on a smart outfit, snazzy music, and have fun!

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